A day after the Election Commission temporarily barred Mayawati from campaigning starting Tuesday, the Supreme Court today rejected the BSP supremo’s plea against the poll panel’s ban. The Commission invoked its extraordinary powers to temporarily ban four political leaders — UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, BSP chief Mayawati, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi and SP leader Azam Khan — from campaigning in wake of their provocative political speeches.
“Seems like the Election Commission has woken up and found its powers,” the top court said today. The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, was hearing a PIL filed by an NRI in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) seeking action against political parties for “hate speeches” made by their leaders or representatives. It also said that it was satisfied with the EC’s action over provocative speeches by politicians and that no further orders are needed at this stage.
The Commission’s order came shortly after the Supreme Court questioned the poll panel over action taken against leaders like Adityanath and Mayawati, and decided to examine the Commission’s powers in this regard.
The punitive action was taken against the BSP chief for appealing directly to Muslim voters in Saharanpur and Bareilly districts during a joint rally of the BSP-SP alliance on April 7. Adityanath was punished for his “Ali and Bajrangbali” remark at a Meerut rally on April 9 and the “green virus” comment which was a reference to Muslims.
Maneka Gandhi was barred for saying, at a meeting in Sultanpur on April 11, that she will not be inclined to help Muslims if they do not vote for her. Khan was punished for the “indecent and repugnant” remarks he made April 14 against BJP’s Rampur candidate Jaya Prada.
While Adityanath and Khan were barred for three days (72 hours) starting Tuesday morning, Gandhi and Mayawati cannot campaign for two days (48 hours).
Responding to the temporary ban order, Mayawati called it “unconstitutional and cruel.” “This order will be remembered as a black day in the history of our Election Commission. This decision appears to have been taken under some pressure…,” she said